Friday, May 13, 2016
The more mixed the Sunday morning pews are, the fewer people are likely to be in them
That’s the primary finding of a new study from Baylor University. Researchers studied the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, where racial diversity doubled from 1993 to 2012, and found that, at the same time, churches with the greatest diversity growth also had the steepest declines in attendance. The study also found that rises in racial diversity were associated with declines in weekly attendance, especially in the 1990s. In addition, older congregations were more likely to see a decline in attendance and congregations in predominantly white communities were more likely to grow. The study was conducted among more than 11,000 ELCA congregations and used data from the U.S. Census Bureau. The ELCA is one of the least racially diverse denominations in the United States, according to the Pew Research Center, with white people making up 96% of its membership. Only the National Baptist Convention, with 99% black membership, is less diverse.